Actually, that IS me, Thursday, May 4, 2006. Behind my boat at the time, a 1989 Supra with a 240hp Ford-based V8 running nearly flat-out on a calm day (as you can see).
But wait, I don’t care about the boat, I hear you saying. WTF is that tube?
A Kite Tube.
We saw the video put out by the manufacturer. We ordered one. First person to try it couldn’t get it to fly. I’m lighter and we also ran the rope off the extended pylon (tow point ~7' off the water instead of ~2-3'). Holy shit it was fun and terrifying. I got ~20-25 feet up behind a different boat, and again behind this boat on a different day, heading into the wind. I got tossed off from about 20' up going about 25mph and lost both contact lenses.
That is, before we heard about The Deaths. People got badly injured, even killed doing this behind faster boats. The shape was incredibly unstable and it would flip over, causing a sudden dive straight down toward the water - which, by the way, is rather like concrete at 40+ mph - IF you could hang on, you got slammed into the water and if you let go, you got tossed like a ragdoll into the same unforgiving surface.
You can see my hand in the pic above through the clear bit - I was moving up to counter the motion of the tube - I moved my body a LOT to try and keep it stable, and it still hit the water pretty hard a few times. It was a little like wrestling, but solo, and in the air.
Believe it or not, I didn’t come off and it didn’t flip over in the above pic. It was so big, the drag from the bottom hitting the water was enough force to slap down the top part, rather than the apparent wind knocking it over. It then bounced right back up.
This was a few seconds later:
With a bit of a steady breeze, I could really get it going because I needed air speed, not ground speed of course:
It was incredibly fun to fly like that, but also scary. I could see the danger, but I felt I could manage it under the right conditions, and with the right driver.
But after seeing a few videos like the one below (and the product being recalled by the manufacturer after numerous lawsuits and intervention by something like the National Product Safety Commission on Preventing Comically Dangerous Products That Literally Have a Skull and Crossbones On Them)... I never flew again. If you can handle the pre-go-pro shaky videos, this is pretty horrifying. Some of these are different tubes, but they all had the same idea.
In particular, what happens between 0:39 and 0:43 is typical. In literally two seconds it goes from fine to NOT AT ALL FINE to possible life-altering injury.
0:39 - all is well
0:41 - tube is 40 feet in the air
0:43 - rider is bodyslammed into water at high speed
Even a great athlete will struggle to react to that kind of motion.
Back to the title of this post - after 3:00 today I’m off work until January 2, 2020. Weeeeeee haaaaa!
Happy Whatever to all of you! I’ll check in here and there, but I like to kind of go off the interwebz when I’m on breaks, so... expect very little of me. Cheers.